To buy a client book or not to buy a client book? That is the question many advisers face when going out on their own.
On the one hand, buying a book has clear advantages: a readymade list of clients and a degree of financial stability from the get-go.
But there are some downsides, too, says adviser Steve Greatrex, who suggests thinking carefully before buying a big book.
“Buying a book can mean that you have lots of small clients that you end up juggling,” Steve says. “These are not relationships that you have formed on your own either, which makes it harder.”
When Greatrex and his wife, Glenys Cook, a fellow financial planner, moved to Orange many years ago, he inherited a small book for his financial planning business as a stop-gap.
“It was much, much harder to build the relationships that you wanted to build,” he says. “It also meant that in servicing the book, you don’t think about marketing yourself and putting yourself out there.”
After six years of living in Orange, Greatrex and Cook decided it wasn’t for them.
“Regional living is something that you have to try to find out whether it’s right for you,” Greatrex says. “In the end, however, I found that it closes in on you in a way.”
The couple moved to Adelaide, where Cook got a job as a planner with ANZ Bank.
It gave Greatrex the freedom to launch his own business, Wealth On Track, without buying a client book.
“I started from scratch and really noticed the difference,” he says. “You have to back yourself and be a bit entrepreneurial in your thinking and marketing of yourself. In the end, Glenys was looking at me and the business I had built and was wanting that same kind of freedom.”
In 2012, she took the leap and joined Greatrex in the business.
“It actually works really well,” he says, when asked how the couple find living and working together. “I think men tend to compartmentalise a bit more and I will often say, ‘Let’s talk about this at the office tomorrow,’ so we don’t spend too much time, of an evening, talking about work.
“Glenys has also been great for the business, as she is one of the most talented and experienced planners in the industry. We also find that a lot of women want to talk to a woman about their finances.”
In 2014, the practice became self-licensed, a move that Greatrex described as liberating.
“We were getting sick of the software that we had to use, we felt hamstrung by it,” he says. “We were told that being self-licensed was going to be hard, that the professional indemnity insurance was higher and so on. It was actually a lot easier than we thought.”
The move has also had a positive effect on their bottom line.
“Customers come to us because we are self-licensed; it’s something they are starting to really look for,” he says. “And in terms of productivity, we can use the software of our choice and it’s so much easier and more efficient.
“The previous software was so difficult to use. We can understand how there is such a thriving paraplanning business, because a lot of people can’t use some of the software. It’s a business killer.”
Name of firm: Wealth On Track
Years in the industry (previous jobs?): Started in financial services in 1988;
financial planner since 2002; had own business since 2009; self-licensed since late 2014
Academic qualifications: master’s degree in applied finance, bachelor’s degree in laws, bachelor’s degree in communications
Accreditations: Qualified mortgage broker since November 2016
Professional association memberships: Stockbrokers and Financial Advisers Association; Finance Brokers Association of Australia
Other memberships: Associated Advisory Practices (Centrepoint Alliance)